St. Mary of Pine Bluff History
The first European people to settle in Pine Bluff, a community which lies at the bottom of a circular valley once surrounded by pine trees, were the English, then the Irish and Germans. While the English moved westward toward more desirable, open prairie, the Irish and Germans staked land claims, cleared fields, planted crops, and built a community of families in God's grace and providence. The first Mass in Pine Bluff was in the home of John Kalscheur by Fr. Adelbert Inama, traveling from Roxbury, in 1852
Christian Billstein and his wife, Gertrude Scholl, deeded five acres of land for church purposes to The Most Reverend John Henni, Bishop of Milwaukee. The deed was recorded on March 17, 1854.Unlike other communities where different national groups built separate churches, this faith community elected to build one. Dedication of the new Church to Our Lady Help of Christians and the first Mass was celebrated on the Feast of the Assumption, August 15, 1854. Fr. Lorenz Conrad was installed as the first pastor for Pine Bluff, as well as Springfield and Cross Plains. As the parish continued to grow, the first rectory was built in 1868, and a residence for the Sisters in 1874. Fr. Ignatius A. Klein became pastor in 1887, building the present church. He also organized the parish at Mount Horeb and built it's first church.
The first school house was built on the north edge of the property; doubling its size in 1887. A second school was built in 1915 and was used for 46 years. The current school building was constructed in 1961 and dedicated by the Most Reverend William O'Connor, Bishop of Madison. Classes were held at the school for grades 1-8 until 1968 when the attendance was limited to grades 3-6 and then closed in 1969. The present rectory was built in 1904.
The first parish picnic was held in 1907; a tradition that was interruped at the beginning of World War II but was reestablished and continues as an annual event. It is held on the second Sunday in August.A Centennial observance was held on August 15, 1954 with Mass being celebrated by the Most Reverend William O'Connor, Bishop of Madison. It was also at this time that the first parish history was recorded. The parish council was established in 1968 and held its first meeting on May 5th of that year.
St. Mary of Pine Bluff also had a mission church in the Town of Vermont: St. James. A lightning strike caused fire to burn the church in 1969. It was never rebuilt. Father Thomas Coyle was ordained and celebrated his first mass in May of 1970. He was the first, and so far the only, priest from the parish.
There are nine from St. Mary of Pine Bluff who became Sisters. They include:
1926 Rosela Kalscheur became Sister M. Laurentina, O.S.F.
1934 Bernadette Kalscheur became Sister M. Herman, O.S.F.
1938 Genevieve Krantz became Sister M. Jonathan, O.S.F.
1939 Eileen Kalscheur became Sister M. Laurentina, O.S.F.
1941 Sylvia Anne Haack became Sister M. Anne Christine, O.S.F.
1942 Mary Elizabeth Krantz became Sister M. Florine, O.S.F.
1943 Bernadette Kelter became Sister M. Rozella, O.S.F.
1947 Therese Farrell became Sister M. Felicitas, O.P.
1948 Catherine Kelter became Sister M. Wilhelmina, O.S.F.
Our traditional St. Pathrick's dinner was first held in 1974 and continues as a celebration of our parish family. Traditionally it is held on the Sunday closest to March 17th, St. Patrick's Day. A memorial statue of Our Lady of the Assumption was erected at the time of the 125th Anniversary of St. Mary of Pine Bluff. This was celebrated on August 15, 1979. The 1990 addition was dedicated by The Most Reverend Cletus O'Donnell, Bishop of Madison.